Evening Update Thursday 7th April 2022

A five-week-long criminal trial into two Marseille dentists - a father and son - has come to a close - with the verdict delayed until September. Prosecutors accuse the pair of defrauding the social security system by performing unnecessary surgery on 350 patients - which left some of them with permanent damage. Lionel Guedj is facing up to 10 years in jail and a €375,000 fine if found guilty of malpractice. His father Carnot is facing up to four years in jail and a €150,000 fine.

A child with symptoms of salmonella has been admitted to the pediatric emergency room at Monaco's Princess Grace hospital, a few hours after eating a Kinder chocolate. Earlier this week, Ferrero recalled hundreds of tonnes of its Kinder products - in the run-up to Easter - due to suspected salmonella. This is the first suspected case in the principality. Doctors say the child's condition is not worrying. They will be placed on antibiotics and should recover quickly. Meanwhile, food safety inspectors carried out 130 spot checks across the Alpes-Maritimes last weekend, following a series of product recalls including Kinder chocolates and Buitoni pizzas.

France’s health minister has announced that the fourth dose of the Covid vaccination is now open for the over-60s. Olivier Véran insisted that the new injection is "not compulsory" and can be injected from six months after the first booster dose.

Meanwhile, a double whammy of coronavirus and the tail-end of the winter flu is putting the Riviera's pharmacies under pressure. Demand for tests is surging according to the president of the Paca and Corsica order of pharmacists. Pharmacies are also struggling to fill vacant posts as the number of newly qualified pharmacists is falling.

If you're looking for a summer job, you're in the right place. The Paca region says there are 8,300 vacancies in tourism, as the sector bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic. The region is planning a big awareness campaign to attract people to jobs in tourism, hotels and catering. The ads will also appear in other French regions - encouraging people to look to the south of France for their next job. Half a million euros will be made available to fund vocational training for tourism jobs. Officials also want to draw up a charter of good conduct with hotel and restaurant owners, to improve the image of some jobs that might have had a reputation for low pay and long hours.

With three days to go until the first round of the presidential elections, ballot papers, envelopes and ballot boxes have arrived at 980 polling stations dotted across the Alpes-Maritimes. There are 252 in the Nice agglomeration alone, 56 in Cannes and 67 in Antibes. Polls open at 8am on Sunday. The results of the first exit poll will be broadcast at 8pm.

And the French taxman is using artificial intelligence to track down Riviera property owners with an undeclared swimming pool. Owning a pool ramps up the price of your property tax. The tax authorities have developed an AI tool with Google to scan satellite imaging and aerial photos of people's land. It's been tested out here in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, along with seven other French departments, and if successful could be applied nationwide.

BUSINESS

Oil giant Shell has confirmed it will take a hit of up to $5bn from offloading its Russian assets as part of plans to withdraw from the country. The firm has pledged to no longer buy oil, but contracts signed before the invasion of Ukraine will be fulfilled. The costs of Shell no longer doing business in Russia include quitting joint ventures with Gazprom. Shell was criticised when it bought Russian crude oil at a cheap price shortly after the war began. In response to the outrage, the company apologised and pledged to stop buying oil from Russia.

P&O Ferries has said it is preparing to get its Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain ships back in action on the Dover-Calais route by next week. The ferries will need to pass inspections by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (before services can resume. Holiday-makers and lorry drivers have faced queues near Dover in recent days. P&O Ferries had confirmed yesterday that all of its Dover-Calais routes would remain suspended this weekend, and that another ferry operator, DFDS, would not be able to take P&O customers. Following the recent sacking of 786 seafarers by P&O Ferries, passengers hoping to cross the channel have been left with fewer travel options.

SPORT

Football - Security guards in Qatar working on projects linked to the 2022 World Cup have been subjected to conditions "which amount to forced labour", according to a report by Amnesty International. Published just days after the official draw for the tournament, the human rights organisation documented the experiences of 34 employees from eight private security companies. It said the migrant workers described working for months or even years on end without a day off. Amnesty says the workers were employed by private companies which provided services for sites including football stadiums, as well as other infrastructure projects essential for the World Cup.

Golf's first men's major of the year is under way as we speak, with the world's finest players making their annual pilgrimage to one of sport's most iconic venues - the Augusta National. Tee-offs for the first round of the 86th Masters have been delayed by 30 minutes because of overnight storms. Most of the attention this week has been on whether Tiger Woods will play, just 14 months after suffering life-threatening injuries when he crashed a car while speeding. On Tuesday, he confirmed he planned to play in the Masters and compete in a top-level event for the first time since his last appearance at Augusta in November 2020. Rory McIlroy again bids to complete the career Grand Slam of winning all four majors. He's once again the leading player from the UK and is due to tee off at 8.30pm French time.

Horseracing - A field of 40 horses, and four reserves, has been named for this Saturday's Grand National at Aintree. Irish-trained horses dominate the top of the betting with last year's third-placed Any Second Now and fourth-place Burrows Saint both returning. Spectators return to the Grand National meeting for the first time since 2019. Around 150,000 racegoers are expected over three days at Aintree after the 2020 meeting was called off and crowds were banned last year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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